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MADOKA 180 7,3mm f4 - review

Published: 19.10.2012

Madoka 180
Michal Kroupa


Last year I have tested the Yasuhara NANOHA x5 lens. It was a macro lens with huge magnification for small mirrorless cameras. Basically no other lens for NEX and M4/3 could compete with it because of its maximum magnification ratio 5:1, which is a fairly extreme value. When used correctly, the NANOHA x5 can conjure absolutely stunning pictures.


A link to a beautiful macro-picture from the website:

Recenze MADOKA 180 7,3mm f4


Madoka and box

Madoka 180 7,3mm f4 review


The Yasuhara Co., Ltd. has now once again decided to fill in the gap at the market with a new lens Madoka 180 7,3mm f4. It is the first circular fish eye lens for mirrorless cameras. The company MakroFoto s.r.o. has lent me the lens for a few weeks. That is why i would like to thank the company for willingness and behavior .


First impression


The package itself is not much bigger than the box of the Canon 50mm f1,8. On the left side I could not oversee a ticked  check box specifying for E-mount (NEX). The other empty check box was marked M4/3, suggesting that this lens will be manufactured also for the Panasonic/Olympus M4/3 mirrorless cameras in the future. My presumption has also been confirmed by the CEO of Makrofoto Co., Ltd. Madoka 180 for M4/3 should be launched at the beginning of 2013. I did not get any other specifications, but I myself will be watching with interest, whether the optics will have different structure compared to the NEX version. If the original structure stays and only the change from E-mount to M4/3 would be made, then the circle formed would probably be cropped at the top and at the bottom, which would negate its designation as a circular fish eye lens. Anyway, I would not like to speculate and I will let myself get surprised by what the manufacturer will come up with and how he will solve this problem. There is nothing else in the box, except for a small leaflet with the description of the optical structure and the lens itself.



Focusing and the lens characteristics


Most of the NEX camera owners use manual lenses, because they offer a wide range of different reductions and adapters. While taking pictures with the Madoka, it is necessary to turn on the release w/o lens function just like with old manual lenses, otherwise the camera will continuously report an error. I have dealt with this problem pretty often and it could be a little confusing for a novice NEX user. As hinted in the name, the viewing angle of the lens is more than 180 degrees and the picture is shown on the chip in its center area, which is characteristic for circular fish eye lenses.





Focusing and the aperture control is, as in the case of the NANOHA lens, only MF (manual focus) and there is no electronics between the lens and the body of the camera. Manual focus does not limit the speed of shooting, because the focus ring has a very short range of motion. The ring has a backstop at the shortest and longest ends, so it does not over rotate just like on the for example kit lens for NEX or Sigma 30.



Madoka 180



The lens allows focusing from 10 cm! It has been practically proven to me, that while focusing on objects which are further than 1 meter you can leave the ring on infinity. The aperture has a nice click sound, but the impression is spoiled by its slightly loose motion (I had the same feeling of ring fragility on the NANOHA lens). Overall, the body is pretty solidly processed thanks to the use of metal parts. I tested the lens on the NEX 7 and NEX 5N bodies. It looks very compact on both of the cameras and its weight (only 200g!) does not even disturb the small size of the mirror less cameras.


The optics


The optics are made of seven elements in six groups. There is of course no way to cover the front of the lens, with any protective filter. However, I liked the fact that the manufacturer added a practical tag on the cover, thanks to which the cover can be easily tied to the camera.


The sharpness of the lens is excellent. If I had to sort the circle of the picture formed on the chip with f4 into certain areas of sharpness, the center and the surrounding 100 degrees of the shot are very sharp. The other 30 degrees have significantly lower sharpness and the remaining 10 degrees are pretty much unusable. The sharpness of the picture does not change much in the center of the picture with rising aperture, but it reaches its maximum by the value of f8. Extreme edges of the picture are the sharpest with aperture f16, where they equalize with the sharpness of the center with aperture f4. But with aperture f16 a diffraction occurs, which is however not too significant. Virtually the same sharpness for all areas of the picture is reached with aperture f16.


Chromatic aberration is excellent (due to the construction of the lens) and is noticeable only by the transition between the edge of picture circle and the unused area of the chip. It barely changes while changing the aperture. Of course, it does not make any sense to judge the distortion, because the Madoka 180 is a lens with orthographic projection, which means that the center of the picture is significantly bigger compared to a regular fish eye. The edges of the picture are so compressed, that I recommend using only the middle part of the picture (around 120 degrees) while shooting VR panoramas. A link to a stunning example of the possibilities you have, while taking VR panoramas with Madoka




As I have already mentioned earlier, the Madoka 180 is capable of shooting pictures with more than a 180 degree spread. The picture made is projected on the chip in its center area, which is good news for NEX-7 owners. The only similarly wide lens for NEX is Samyang 8mm (normal fisheye).




However, the problem is, that Samyang makes a disturbing magenta color defect on the N7 body. I did not see the purple corners while using the Madoka. Of course the color defect is not caused by the lens. Sadly, the NEX-7 sensor is not appropriate for the use of wider lenses. On the picture below you can see the color defect while using the N7 and Samyang 8mm.



Magenta posun


Madoka vs Samyang


Some people could complain about the picture being projected only on to the center of the sensor without using its whole area. However, the advantage of a circular fish eye is capturing horizontally and vertically with a 180 degree angle. This type of lenses was originally developed for use in meteorology for sky studies. Massive manufacturing of classic fish eye lenses began after its popularity started to rise in casual photography (exactly the mentioned Samyang).



Accessories and the use of the Madoka lens


While reading the specifications of the Madoka lens, I ran across interesting accessories, which make it possible to make a spherical panoramic picture from only 4 pictures. It is basically a picture with a view angle of 360 degrees. Trough connection of several spherical panoramic pictures a virtual 3D tour is made. Sadly, I have not made a picture like this yet. The Madoka 180 encourages you to make a picture like this and that is why I am adding a link to the Nomad Panohead Yasuhara Madoka 180 head.



Sférický snímek
Nomad Panohead
Spherical pano Nomad Panohead Yasuhara Madoka 180





With the rapid spread of mirror less camera systems, earlier little known companies are trying to brush past competition and to bite off the biggest part of the imaginary cake of the lens pieces sold. It was not so long ago, that very little people would fully trust lenses from Samyang. Today their optics are in some consideration better that L lenses from Canon, I mean to say that it is first of all the name of the company selling their products, and that is why it will take a while until Yasuhara will be able to convince the owners of mirror less lenses about its qualities. The lack of high quality lenses for NEX led first to massive sales of various adapters. In my opinion however, the trend today is to make unusual lenses, they will be suitable for less people, but they will not be replaceable by some other alternative. NANAOHA and Madoka are just the case. Both lenses have basically no competition, which makes them unique and they will definitely find a spot in the camera bag of some photographers.


I have nothing wrong to say about the optics of the lens. Sharpness is excellent. Aberration is on a good level, when you take the structure of the lens into consideration. Sadly, I still have the feeling that Madoka 180 is too much of a curiosity. Of course, with some other lens I would hardly be able to make a VR panoramic picture. The question is however, how often I will be taking pictures like this. I would personally prefer the Samyang 8mm as a ultra-wide lens, because I can see more use for it and more possibilities while capturing. Sadly, the NEX-7 sensor and similar types of lenses (as the Samyang) do not understand each other so nicely, so this makes the Madoka 180 the only fish eye, which is compatible with the highest NEX line. That is why the Madoka 180 is a great and the only option if you are looking for a high quality circular fish eye lens and you are aware of the limits of this lens type. But you have to bear in mind, that the lens uses only 40-50% of the sensor and that is why when cropping to a classic wide format you get only 10 MPX from the N7's 24MPX.


On the other hand, the price for this lens with its optical quality is not exaggerated at all. It is around 260 euros. I would rate this lens very positively, but it does not really suit me because of its limited usability. Anyways, VR panaromas are a unique kind of photography, which will always cause astonishment.



Yasuhara MADOKA 180


Madoka 180 Madoka 180


Sample of VR panorama


Hrad v noci


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